Navigation Menu is only visible when JavaScript is enabled

 

Home | Contact ASHG | Join/Renew your Membership | Search Website    

 

 
 

Statement on the Importance of Participation of Scientists in K-12 Science Education

 
   
   
   

 

 



Careers in Human Genetics

 

What is genetics?

 

Genetics is the study of genes, their functions, and their effects.

 

Why become a geneticist?

 

At the center of scientific advancement in the 21st century, geneticists are immersed in exciting science, technology, and medical breakthroughs every day. The opportunities are numerous to contribute to the advancement of science, the care of patients, and the teaching of the next generation of genetics professionals. One must be ready to make a commitment in time, energy, and focus to be a successful geneticist, but the rewards are enormous.  What more exciting and energizing field could anyone choose?

 

How do I become a geneticist?

 

 

 

Hear from professionals:

 

 

Marshfield Clinic 'Career in Genetics" brochure

If you are interested in becoming a geneticist, regardless of your eventual career path, you should start by taking plenty of math and science courses in high school, especially biology and chemistry.  In college, biology, chemistry, and biochemistry are popular majors for those interested in genetics careers.  Larger institutions may offer more specialized majors such as genetics or molecular biology.  Again, you will need to take plenty of math and science classes, and do well in these classes.  With your undergraduate science degree, many paths in genetics are open to you!

 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

What is the job demand for geneticists?

 

As the details of the human genome unfold, the variety of opportunities for people with degrees and training in human genetics is continuing to expand. There are opportunities in basic and clinical research, in medical professions, and in interdisciplinary fields, such as patent law. The genetics workforce is not sufficient even now, and demand continues to increase. For example, as genetic testing becomes more commonplace, and a part of many routine medical evaluations, more laboratory geneticists will be needed to perform the tests, and clinicians and counselors will be needed to interpret and explain the results to individuals and families. At the intersection of genetics and computer science, bioinformaticists are in high demand to make sense of complex data. As genetics is recognized to be a basic part of all biological sciences, more and more teachers with expertise in genetics will also be needed. These are just a few examples of the growing demand for professions trained in genetics.

 

What is a typical week like?

 

A geneticist's work week structure and duties vary greatly depending on their career field.  Geneticists working in fields such as media, law, public policy, or education follow the typical work week schedule of those fields. Research and health professionals have some control over their work schedules, but often work more than 40 hours every week. For researchers, experiments may take many hours to complete, or require lab work several days in a row. In addition to the laboratory and/or field work required to perform the studies, researchers must read the scientific literature, analyze their own data, and prepare manuscripts of their work for scientific journals. Also, most medical research is quite expensive, and researchers are responsible for competing nationally for funding to support their work by writing successful grant applications. In the case of practicing clinical and laboratory geneticists and genetic counselors, patients come first. That commitment may translate into long days to complete evaluations or follow up, or may include weekend obligations.

 

What are the salary and benefits?

 

The salaries and fringe benefits vary, depending on educational background (i.e., highest degree held) and the position taken, but in general, people working in genetics are well-compensated professionals. Geneticists working in university medical centers or research institutions would have salaries and benefits typical of faculty members of similar rank. For those geneticists choosing a career in the private sector (e.g., a biotechnology company), the salary and benefits might vary according to the resources of the company.

 

What skills, abilities, or personality characteristics should a geneticist possess?

 

Good geneticists have a basic curiosity and passion about the genetic basis of health and disease. To be successful at the job, one must have perseverance, patience, and good communication skills. Geneticists love to learn and are self-motivated. Students interested in genetics careers should take as much science and math as possible in high school and college.

 

The American Society of Human Genetics, Incorporated

9650 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland 20814

society@ashg.org 1-866-HUM-GENE (301) 634-7300

Privacy Policy